Monday, February 13, 2012

It's Just An "F" Key

. . . or, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Am I the only one who’s a control freak? It seems like a rhetorical question, but sometimes it’s a hard one to answer “yes” to. Once upon a time, someone told me that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. And, of course, I want to do things the right way. The problem, I’ve discovered, is that everyone’s got an opinion about what that "right way" is. And if you crave acceptance, you can’t risk marching to the beat of a different drummer. You’ve gotta toe the line, stay the course, not rock the boat, follow the yellow brick road.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not as free spirited as I may sound here. Personally, I’m getting pretty tired of the sounding gong of “tolerance at all cost”. It’s giving me a headache. Even the pressure to require no absolutes is still pressure to conform to an ideology. I guess that’s fodder for another forum.

I have discovered, though, that while some tasks in life must be done, there are multiple ways to do them. If there’s a town I need to visit, there are several ways to get there, even if it does force Gabby Garmin to “re-cal-cu-late”. (If it wasn’t so helpful when we drive to have GPS onboard, we’d dump her bad attitude at the next rest area.) If I like to eat food every day—and I do—I can decide whether to indulge in Italian or PBJ. Cleaning the house is always on my list of things to procrastinate about. But when the dust bunnies threaten a coup, it’s up to me whether to vacuum or wash dishes first—or hire someone else to give it their best shot. See? Choices. I. Have. Choices.

I remember the day this first dawned on me. And it led to the catch phrase I now use as a template for freedom. I was taking an Introduction to Computers course at our local community college. I didn’t know RAM was anything but an intimidating farm animal at the time. Or that booting up wasn’t just a habit for cowboys. I knew how to type. Period.

In that one semester, I learned there are at least five ways to carry out the same task. I could use the drop-down tool bar. Or right click with my mouse. I could open the menu at the bottom of the screen and find my desired device. Or I could press the control key and another key simultaneously. The choices were nearly endless! There may be others you use all the time. And today there are still “F” keys. Actually, at the time I first learned the computer, my instructor was in love with “F” keys, so that’s what I knew best.

But my husband, who had encouraged me to become computer savvy, had a lot more experience with the machine than either me or my instructor. Pretty soon we began to have conflicts over our home computer any time we’d be working on budgets or lesson plans together. He had a favorite way to cut and paste, while I was addicted to “F” keys. Each convinced that our way was best, we finally had to agree to disagree and let whoever had the keyboard do it the way they wanted to. All roads lead to Rome, you know. At the end of the day, a cut and paste can be done five different ways, and the reader of your novel doesn’t care which one you use as long as the story makes sense.

“It’s just an “F” key” became the means to ceasefire in our house—a way to end silly disagreements. And it’s one of the most freeing principles I’ve ever stumbled across. It’s helped us avoid wasting time on insignificant differences of opinion. It’s built my self-esteem. It has actually, surprisingly, taught me a balanced view of “tolerance”.

Most of the things in life that people disagree about are, in reality, “just an F key”. Or, as I taught my kids when they were learning to drive, “If you’re the one behind the wheel of the car, you get to decide which route to take.” It’s the privilege of your responsibility.

Now if we could just get that across to Siri.


  1. I've always said that you have to pick the hill you are willing to die on. Heard that somewhere. Don't remember where. It sure helps when you finally realize that your arguing about something silly. Easier to be the person who backs off.

    I've only ever found one hill I was willing to die on. Thus the divorce. Everything else is resolvable.

    1. Reminds me of the philosophy we clung to like floating lumber adrift in the ocean of our teenagers' angst: Choose your battles. Picking the hill you're willing to die on is a new one to me, but a pretty clear word picture. Thanks for another great comment!

  2. F Key? No, no, no... the *right* way is with the "control" button. LOL. Just kidding.

    I need to work on this with my kids. My oldest has this thing where he's got to tell his younger brother every single thing he's doing wrong. When I call him on it, he claims I do that to him.

    I'm fairly sure I don't.

    FYI... Control C = copy, control v = paste.

    1. Gotta love my computer geek friends! I just discovered that Control I = italics!!! You have no idea how jazzed I've been to learn that one! And now, I can practice copy and paste, too! (Although to be perfectly honest, I adore the mouse. In honor of Tika, of course.)